A new and authentically Catholic activism in public affairs is urgent, writes the Archbishop, "as the mistakes and ambiguities of the past half-century of American Catholic experience come to harvest. Our national leadership in 2012 seems deaf to matters of religious freedom abroad and unreceptive -- or frankly hostile -- to religious engagement in public affairs here at home."
A Heart on Fire, initially drafted in the fall of 2011, is even timelier now with the imposition of the current administration's HHS mandate -- an action the Archbishop considers "coercive and deeply troubling in its implications for the rights of conscience." On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortion-causing drugs, and contraception. The exemption provided for "religious employers" is so narrow that it failed to cover the vast majority of faith-based organizations-including Catholic hospitals, universities, and charities-that help millions of people every year regardless of their faith.
Archbishop Chaput is the author previously of Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics(Servant) and Image Books' best-selling Render Unto Caesar, along with numerous articles, reflections, essays and talks. He writes a weekly web column at www.CatholicPhilly.com.